Colleen Gleason – The Vampire Dimitri

A must read for any vampire genre fan with a beautifully framed romance and great conflict.

This is my second Colleen Gleason book and the second in her Regency Draculia series.  After having read the first book in the series, The Vampire Voss, before I tackled this one, I strongly suggest that you read that one first. The first two-thirds of this book take place simultaneously to the events of the first book, just from the perspective of Dimitri and Maia, and I found this book a little hard to follow at times because of that. The author expects the reader to be familiar with the story already and leaves a few holes that would confuse someone not having read the first book.

With the exception of that little criticism, I found this story to be a great vampire genre book that is a total must read for anyone with a passion for all things vampire. Two very powerful factions of vampires are on the verge of a war and the Woodmore family is right at the centre of it. An uneasy alliance has been made between Dimitri, the Earl of Corvindale and his group of vampires and the Woodmore heir, Chas, a vampire assassin working to rid the world of the opposing vampire forces. But Chas is a wanted man for many reasons and his enemies target two of his sisters to gain their revenge. Reluctantly, Dimitri takes on the task to act as guardian for the two older Woodmore sisters and gets himself in completely over his head with his attraction to the strong willed Maia. He must protect her from his enemies as well as his own desires which proves to be a very difficult task indeed. Add Maia’s plain, boring fiancé to the mix and you have a battle royale to find a happy ending.

As with the first book in the series, I found the plot of this story to be complex and detailed. There is so much going on that I had to pay particular attention as to not get lost in the plot twists and turns. The majority of the book follows the same storyline as the first book but when Dimitri and Maia’s story really starts to take center stage, the book takes on a whole new flow. I love the tension the author creates between these two characters as she pits two very strong personalities against each other. But the love between Dimitri and Maia is hard to ignore and I eagerly waited for them to finally come together. Both characters are written very well, with great depth especially in the case of Dimitri.

As a vampire, Dimitri does a poor imitation of the blood thirsty mythical creature from hell. In fact, he is so repulsed by his need for human blood that he hasn’t taken a live feed for over 100 years. He hates his life and what he is and spends his time researching ways to break the vampire curse and his pact with Lucifer. His desire to be a real man again and live a normal life completely attracted me and gives him real appeal as a hero. He may be dark and brooding but he is a strong, determined man who screams unfulfilled sensuality.

Maia is his match in every way. She has the same strong, controlling personality so obviously she butts heads with Dimitri at every turn. I like her desire to protect her family and her determination to avoid entanglement with Dimitri and marry a simple man. The girl just makes me laugh as she tries to resist her undeniable attraction to the powerful earl.

The love scenes are more tame than I would have liked to see in a vampire romance. I wanted steamy sex and got warmth and affection… not that I minded all that much. I would give it an 8 out of 10 on my Sexy Scale. (10 being very graphic in sexy content – 1 being so tame there isn’t even a real kiss… ok, well maybe a chaste one)

Overall, despite a bit of a rocky and confusing start, I liked Dimitri and Maia’s story and would recommend it to vampire and historical romance fans alike. The final book, The Vampire Narcise, is quietly screaming at me on my e-reader. I am afraid to start reading it as I have no clue who the true hero is going to be and I really want it to be Chas yet a part of me knows there is a chance that that poor boy is going to be the loser in love this time around… we shall see. I give this book a 7 out of 10.

– My reviews can also be found on The Season for Romance. Check out the website, blog, and forum for great reviews, covers, announcements and more!

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Colleen Gleason – The Vampire Voss

A darkly fascinating love story without a vampire cliché in sight.

I am not a fan of the recent overload of vampire books. I think it is important to state that right up front as every gothic writer under the sun seems to be writing vampire books these days. But this book is very different from what I expected and a far stretch from the typical vampire book. Yes, there is reference to wooden stakes though the heart and sunlight, but also the unique twist of redemption and the chance to break a pact with the devil. Gleason takes the general, expected plot items found in almost any vampire book and puts her own spin on this legend. This book is interesting and intriguing if just a little lagging in the middle.

Set in Regency England, this whole series revolves around the lives of the Woodmore family – a cheeky last name considering the older brother is a vampire assassin. Chas, the brother, is missing and his 3 sisters are left to fend for themselves under the guardianship of the reclusive Dimitri, Earl of Corvindale. A group of vengeful vampires are attempting to capture the girls, especially Angelica, said to have the SIGHT. In walks the bold Voss, Viscount Dewhurst, and Angelica must trust him to keep her safe and discover the whereabouts of her brother. But Voss and Angelica have an undeniable connection, one that is laced with deception. Voss as well as Dimitri are powerful vampires sworn to protect the Woodmore girls yet Voss’s nature is preventing him from getting what he really wants from Angelica and the release from his ancient pact with the devil that turned him into an immortal vampire to begin with.

This story, being the first in a trilogy, is very complex in terms of plot and I have found it difficult to really give any reader of this review a good snap shot of what the book is really about. The plot has so many facets with a simultaneous story going on between the oldest Woodmore sister, Maia, and Dimitri – apparently their perspective is contained within the second book. With the exception of a little lag in the middle of the book, I found Angelica and Voss’s story to be well paced and very interesting. I am eager to see what happens in the future novels which mean the author did her job and enticed me completely.

Voss is a very dark hero with a considerable amount of emotional baggage. He comes across as a complete blackguard at first and I found myself a little turned off by him. But as the story progresses you see the desperate and lonely man behind the vampire and his mission to free himself from his immortality becomes something close to your heart. I love that he has the ability to redeem himself and prove that he is a good man. I find that totally sexy in a hero and closed the book with a small place in my heart for him.

Angelica is a powerful woman with a desire to help protect her family. But, the girl has been careless with her gift of SIGHT and uses it to help silly debutants determine their marriage prospects. I did like her desire to help other people with her gift however. Another thing I like about Angelica is her ability to stand her ground when it comes to Voss, making it just that bit more difficult for him to win her. I like a girl that knows how to play hard to get but also knows when to give in.

I found all the characters to be well written and likeable – even the ones I know I wasn’t supposed to be drawn to yet. Dimitri, for example, is portrayed as a controlling man without compassion yet you get a glimpse of his true self and I began to anticipate his upcoming story. By the end of this book, the author has prepared the reader for Dimitri and Maia’s story and framed the plot for the next two books perfectly.

The love scenes are a little different and more gentle than I expected. Vampires are typically portrayed as such sexual creatures that I was warmed up for some very heated love scenes. But, alas, they were only a little steamy. I would give it a 7 out of 10 on my Sexy Scale. (10 being very graphic in sexy content – 1 being so tame there isn’t even a real kiss… ok, well maybe a chaste one)

Overall, this book was a very interesting read and a refreshing look at the world of vampires. I eagerly anticipate the upcoming books and I can’t wait to see where Colleen will take this saga next.  I give this book a 7.5 out of 10.

– My reviews can also be found on The Season for Romance. Check out the website, blog, and forum for great reviews, covers, announcements and more!

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Kendall Grace – Southern Exposure

A truly pleasurable read with a southern flair sure to thrill any contemporary romance fan.

This novella is my second foray into the world of writer Kendall Grace. My first experience with her was not a positive one but I wanted to give her a chance to redeem herself to my jaded palate and she stunned me silly. This is a perfect example of how you must read several books by a writer before you can determine if you are a fan or not. If I had judged Kendall based solely on that first novella I would have missed out on a truly pleasurable read.  However, that being said, I thought the cover of the novella needed a bit of a face lift – the man was a little too scraggly for me. Not that I will hold that against the author.

High powered New York attorney Anna Reed is summoned to her family’s old home town of Liberty Alabama when her mother has a careless accident. She is about to be made a partner at her father’s old law firm and her dreams are about to be made…until she meets home town southern boy Trey Jacobs. Her mother’s neighbor is hotter than all get out and practically knocks her off her feet from the get go. Her mother needs Anna’s help to keep her business running during the busy season and help her recover from her injuries. But agreeing to stay with her mother also puts Anna directly in Trey’s way day in and day out. As a stunning romance sizzles up the sheets, barn wall, garden bench and more, Anna is in danger of losing all that she thinks she holds dear and the love of the man of her dreams.

One of the best parts of this contemporary novella is the complexity of the main characters and their appeal in general. Trey is your typical southern man with a honey sweet demeanor that can charm the birds from the trees. How can you not love a man who calls you darlin’? Trey has been hurt before and goes into his attraction to Anna with his eyes wide open. I loved that he is realistic in his expectations of their relationship and that he has the tenacity to stick to his guns when it really matters. He was the perfect, sexy, go getter hero that I love in modern romances.

Anna, or Annabelle as her mother calls her or Belle as Trey addresses her in his husky southern drawl, may think she wants to be a big city attorney. But, as the novella progresses the reader discovers her hidden talent as an artist and a depth to her character that makes her very appealing. I love the fact that she is an independent girl wanting to take care of her mother but with a vulnerability that we rarely see in contemporary heroines.

The story is filled with the author’s creative witticisms and intelligent dialogue which added to the overall delight I found while reading this novella. The characters, both lead and minor, are written with style and great perspective which allows the reader to be drawn into the world of Liberty Alabama. I like that the author presents a legitimate plot conflict that is not trivial but in the end very simple to overcome. And what an ending… I really enjoyed the way Kendall resolves her plot lines and gives her lovers their much deserved happy ending.

The love scenes were exciting and intimate but not erotic or too graphic. In fact, they were more tame than I expected from a novella published by Ellora’s Cave. Don’t get me wrong, I found the sensuality fit the book perfectly I would give it an 8 out of 10 on my Sexy Scale. (10 being very graphic in sexy content – 1 being so tame there isn’t even a real kiss… ok, well maybe a chaste one)

As I mentioned, I am so happy I gave Kendall Grace another chance and read this novella. It was fun and endearing and totally worth the read.  I give this book an 8.5 out of 10.

– My reviews can also be found on The Season for Romance. Check out the website, blog, and forum for great reviews, covers, announcements and more!

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Julie Anne Long – What I did for a Duke

A stunningly spectacular romance sure to be one of the best of 2011!

I can’t tell you how long it’s been since a book set my heart racing at a steady pace from beginning to end. “What I did for a Duke” not only had my heart racing, but my breath catching and my finger tips tingling. Brilliant characters, a near perfect romance, and a very well written story make this book one of the best books I have read in a very, very long time.

If you are not familiar with Julie Anne Long’s Pennyroyal Green series, I suggest that you find the previous four books and read them as soon as you can. Not because you have to in order to understand this book but because the series itself is very worth the read.

The Eversea’s and Redmond’s have had a silent war for as long as anyone in either family can remember. Something about a cow, a woman… Who knows! This series focuses on the young men and women of each family as they grow and find love in some very unusual and amusing situations. This fifth book focuses on the young Genevieve Eversea and the menacing Duke of Falconbridge. Genevieve’s brother Ian has wronged the Duke in an unmentionable way, an attempt to seduce his fiancée, and Alex Moncrieffe wants revenge. So, he arrives at an Eversea house party intending to seduce and abandon Ian’s broken hearted sister Genevieve.

Genevieve thinks she is in love with another man and Alex never wants to love again so there is not risk of attachment. What starts as a game for both of them turns into a love story with depth and passion that made me want to weep. Just for the record, I am not a crier. Usually…

The plot was simply wonderful, not complex but easy to follow and quick moving. The story has a great flow to it with absolutely no lag anywhere in sight and the most delicious tension between Alex and Gen. I could not stop turning pages.

Julie Anne Long has framed her characters perfectly, alternating the perspective from both the hero and heroine so that the reader gets a very intimate look at both of them. You feel their emotions; understand their thoughts as they drag you into the middle of the interesting dynamic of their blooming relationship.

Alex is one of those heroes that is just as dashing when he is brooding as when he smiles. He has a horrible reputation and his past is filled with bad rumors and innuendo. But beneath his ruthless façade lies a man deeply hurt and desperately in need of the right woman to charm him out of himself.

Genevieve is just the woman to do it, even if it is completely unintentional. She believes her heart to be set on a close friend but once this strong, understated girl gets close to the Duke everything changes. He shows her passion and love on a completely different level that she could have ever dreamed. The way that Julie Anne has written these two and the way their love grows, the reader can’t help but sigh with delight. The end is perfect, the story closing with the promise of the next book in the series coming soon to tempt the read. I don’t know who’s story it will be, but I can tell you it will be an auto-buy for me.

The love scenes were just right; heated, passionate, and filled with love and tension. I would give it an 8 out of 10 on my Sexy Scale. (10 being very graphic in sexy content – 1 being so tame there isn’t even a real kiss… ok, well maybe a chaste one)

Overall, this is one of the best books I have ever read… hands down a must read!  I give this book a 10 out of 10.
– My reviews can also be found on The Season for Romance. Check out the website, blog, and forum for great reviews, covers, announcements and more!

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Gaelen Foley – My Irresistible Earl

A wonderful story of true love standing the test of time and a great read for historical fans who love spies and intrigue with their love stories.

I am a huge fan of books within a series. Stand-alone books always leave me wanting more and wondering about the future of minor characters and wanting to read the love stories of characters that I become attached to. This book is the third in a series called The Inferno Club – love the spicy name – and was totally up my alley. I love everything to do with spies and intrigue, add the elements of a good love story and I am hooked. My Irresistible Earl definitely satisfied my desire for a real LOVE story and has set the stage for two more exciting books to come.

The Inferno Club might sound like a decadent, exclusive club for societies most debauched rakes but is in fact a cover for a group of men, The Order of St. Michael, who are sworn to protect England and the King. Each man has been hand picked and trained from a young age to serve a special role in the protection of the country. Each key player now gets his chance at love and in this book, one of the Order’s brightest gets his world turned right side up by a women he has never forgotten. The author keeps the reader up-to-date by referring back to instances in other books in a way that doesn’t make you feel lost. If you haven’t read any other the other books in the series – My Wicked Marquess and My Dangerous Duke – have no fear, Gaelen will make you feel a part of the continuing saga at all times.

Jordan Lennox, the Earl of Falconridge first meets Mara, now Lady Pierson, when they were both young and emotionally fierce. They were in love but life in the Order took Jordan on a different path while Mara married another man. After 12 years Mara is back in Jordan’s life and an important part of his current assignment. He has never stopped loving her nor she him but their lives have changed and there may not be room for love in their futures. Jordan must find a way to keep the women who he is destined to love in his life while catching a spy and bringing down The Promethean’s, his sworn enemies.

The character dynamic in this story is great to read as Jordan and Mara are so well matched as a couple and you really feel the love between them. Jordan is a sensible, strong, in-control man but his sensual side makes him a very exciting and attractive hero. Mara has her own quiet strength that matches Jordan’s. They are both fun-loving and practical even if Jordan first thought Mara was a silly debutant when he first met her years before. I found myself very tied into their love story with Gaelen’s great writing and character development.

The plot was action packed with all the gory details adding excitement to the story. People are shot, stabbed, and killed and the author doesn’t pull any punches. This makes the story more real and once again sucks the reader in. I also really enjoy how the author set’s up the plot for the next book – Drake and Emily’s story – and I know I am going to have to wait FOREVER for it to come out…

Finally a real LOVE scene! The first real moment of intimacy between Jordan and Mara is so emotionally charged and sexy, it is a thrill to read. Future love scenes are racy and adventurous in terms of how they make love. A first in this genre for me, some of the positions are a little interesting. I would give it a 8 out of 10 on my Sexy Scale. (10 being very graphic in sexy content – 1 being so tame there isn’t even a real kiss… ok, well maybe a chaste one)

Overall, I very much enjoyed this book. I do suggest reading the other books in the series even if I found them to be not quite as good as this one. But, they are all good reads and a must for any historical fans who enjoys a touch of intrigue with their romance.  I give this book an 8 out of 10.

– My reviews can also be found on The Season for Romance. Check out the website, blog, and forum for great reviews, covers, announcements and more!

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Sarah Maclean – Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke’s Heart

Another well written romantic tale that is everything a love story should be…

This third book in Sarah Maclean’s Love by Numbers series is bold, emotional, and takes the reader on a sensual adventure that will make your breath catch and little butterflies swarm your stomach. It is everything I wanted Juliana’s story to be and I am once again reminded why Sarah Maclean is a force to be reckoned with in the historical romance genre. I strongly suggest that you read the other two books in this series – Nine Rules to Break when Romancing a Rake and Ten Ways to be Adored when Landing a Lord. Both books are permanent fixtures on my book shelf and you will be introduced to the two fantastic lead characters in this final book.

The reader first meets Juliana Fiori, the young half-sister of our hero’s, Nick and Gabriel from the first two books, in the first story in the series. Juliana has come from Italy with a dislike for the stringent rules of English society and a rebellious bent that gets her in trouble and in the gossip sheets time and time again. When she meets Simon, she thinks that she has finally found someone who can care about her as a person and not see her as a scandal waiting to happen. But Simon is not who he seems and is in fact the notorious Duke of Distain, Simon Pearson the Duke of Leighton. He is well known for his strict adherence to propriety and wants nothing to do with Juliana once he discovers who she really is. Throughout the series, Simon and Juliana butt heads until finally they get their chance at love.

In this book, Juliana pits herself against the duke in an attempt to prove to him that what they once felt for each other is more powerful than his need to be scandal free. Simon, for his part, can’t stop thinking about Juliana. But his family has a secret that will destroy them all and the last thing he needs is to be linked to a scandal hungry girl when the cards are laid on the table and only his reputation can save his family. He sets out to prove to Juliana that living a life in society doesn’t have to be boring but that she must play by the rules. However, they both find love closing in quick and neither is ready for the havoc it wreaks on their lives.

I fell in love with Juliana when she was introduced to me in the first book. I love her spirit and desire to be different. She may appear to be strong with a devil-may-care attitude but she is secretly insecure and terrified of ending up like her flighty mother who abandoned her and her brothers. Juliana’s depth as a character and her vulnerability make her one of my favorite heroines.

Simon ticked me off many times as I read this book. He is so rigid and firm on his stance of propriety I want to smack the boy. He is the typical strong, arrogant aristocrat yet his sensuality just gives the reader the shivers! But he finally sees the light and I respect that he is smart enough to know when his goose is cooked and he goes with the flow. I wouldn’t say that he is my favorite hero but he is definitely appealing.

The plot is very strong in this book as are the many characters – a few of which the reader will have met in other books. I really enjoy Sarah’s witty writing style and the way she totally sucks the reader into her vision of regency England. She is an absolute delight to read.

The love scenes are emotionally charged and heated which fits right in with the way Sarah has written Juliana and Simon’s love story. I would give it a 8 out of 10 on my Sexy Scale. (10 being very graphic in sexy content – 1 being so tame there isn’t even a real kiss… ok, well maybe a chaste one)

Overall, this book was a fantastic read and it will definitely find its place on my bookshelf with Sarah Maclean’s other wonderful books. I highly, highly recommend this book!  I give this book a 9.5 out of 10.

– My reviews can also be found on The Season for Romance. Check out the website, blog, and forum for great reviews, covers, announcements and more!

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Katharine Ashe – Captured by a Rogue Lord

An exciting tale of smugglers, pirates, and unexpected love that is sure to delight the reader…

This second book in the Rogues of the Sea series is a fun tale with some unexpected twists that even I didn’t see coming. I like the characters, the plot kept me tied up tightly in anticipation for the most part, and the ending gave me the excitement that I had been waiting for. But something is missing between the main characters emotionally and that took away from the overall feeling I got from this book. The love story is a nice one but I wanted to feel closer to the lead characters and, no matter how hard the author tries, I just didn’t quite feel it.

Alex, the Earl of Savege has been at sea for a good portion of his adult life. When not tearing up the seas he is making his way through the bed chambers of the women of the ton. But on his latest return he receives and unexpected offer of marriage from his neighbor. A shy, biddable girl is presented to him but he can’t take his eyes off her sister whom he has just finished kissing in a dark corner, unbeknownst to either of them. This starts an interesting cat and mouse game between Alex and his spinster neighbor Serena. Alex kissing strangers in the dark did not really appeal to me at first but, as a character, he grows on you as the book develops. You discover he is a Robin Hood style pirate, robbing the wealthy to help feed and take care of the poor. I found Alex to be a sexy, strong hero who matches our heroine Serena well.

Serena is a smart, independent girl who is stuck under her evil stepmother’s control. I like that she stands up for herself and tries to protect her younger siblings. Her kind heart and unselfish attitude endures her to the reader easily. On the other hand, she bothered me at times with her insistence on finding a group of smugglers who have been terrorizing the local people. She wants to find her younger sister who was kidnapped 15 years before. This part of the plot confused me slightly as I kept wondering why she would want to find the smugglers right away to help solve the mystery of her sister’s disappearance – one had nothing to do with the other.

That is just one of the many plot items that confused me throughout the book. Another instance, where a girl from the village goes to the smugglers and is reported kidnapped, you find out that maybe she went there as a spy or maybe she just went for fun but you never really know and I just ended up confused by it all. The plot has several key parts that drag on and the reader just waits too long for the resolution and loses interest. Several other plot items that were far more interesting took a backseat to other things and I found myself wanting to know more about those than some of the ones the author focused on. There was just so much going on at all times that the book keeps you on the edge of your seat and not always in a good way.

I found the emotion between the main characters to be a bit bland and I can’t put my finger on what the author missed that left me wanting. She does a really good job of showing the perspective of both Alex and Serena and you get a good understanding of their emotions throughout the book but I just couldn’t feel it. The other characters are well written as well; you strongly dislike the villains, are annoyed by the simpering misses, and want to jump on board the ship with the hero from the previous book. Overall, the dynamic characters made the book.

The love scenes are warm and loving with a good bite when necessary. They are well written and fit the tone of the book. I would give it a 7.5 out of 10 on my Sexy Scale. (10 being very graphic in sexy content – 1 being so tame there isn’t even a real kiss… ok, well maybe a chaste one)

Overall, this book is one I would recommend to historical fans who like the pirate theme and who like their romance a little rocky. I suggest reading Swept Away by a Kiss, the first in the series, as it is a great read as well.  I give this book a 7 out of 10.

– My reviews can also be found on The Season for Romance. Check out the website, blog, and forum for great reviews, covers, announcements and more!

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